Not-A-Review: 2015 MV Agusta Motorcycles

As promised, here is the second part of our trip down to Fontana, California to meet with MV Agusta USA, go over the company’s new business plan for not only America, but also worldwide, and to ride the current crop of their 2015 machinery. I should preface right out of the gate that this is not a review in regards as to what you’ve come to expect from Asphalt & Rubber. I am not-so-cleverly calling this a “not-a-review” assessment of MV Agusta’s 2015 models. I say this because we had a very limited amount of time on each bike, as there was roughly 10 machines to divide our attention amongst. Think of this article as not far from someone test riding a bunch of motorcycles at a dealership, with similar duration and limits put in place…except that this someone rides motorcycles for a living.

Analyzing The Ducati Desmosedici GP15

Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati’s 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: “Emozionante” and “tanto lavoro”. Both were extremely apt. Getting from where Ducati was to where it is now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed “tanto lavoro”, a lot of hard work, and they still have “tanto lavoro” ahead of them. The results were “emozionante”, a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday. For good reason, the GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before.

Some Thoughts on MV Agusta & A Story About Two Letters

MV Agusta USA recently invited a slew of journalists down to Fontana, California in order to talk about the company’s new business plan, and to ride its current lineup of motorcycles on the infield course. This article is “Part 1″ of that experience, as I wanted to separate my thoughts on MV Agusta, MV Agusta USA, and the general motorcycling climate into one story, and then have my “not-a-review” of the machines for another article. Got it? Ok, let’s go. It is probably easiest to start with where MV Agusta is as a company. MV Agusta has a started a new three-year business plan, which sees the company pushing into a full-range of motorcycles, pushing outside of its Italian boundaries, and pushing out of the “luxury” brand segment.

Photos: Ducati Desmosedici GP15

The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is a machine that has been long in the making. It represents Gigi Dall’Igna’s next step forward for the wayward Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and it is the dubious honor of holding the hopes of Ducati fans around the world, who see the machine as the silver bullet that will return Ducati to the forefront of racing prowess — no pressure. The most obvious change that can be seen on the GP15 is the re-routing of the exhaust, with the undertail pipes collecting on the right-hand side of the machine, rather than coming in from both sides and meeting in the middle. Can you spot any other changes in the high-resolution photos after the jump? Let us know in the comments.

Politics & Corruption: Why There Isn’t a Race in Indonesia

If anyone needed any further proof that Indonesia is important to the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the fact the Repsol Honda team chose Bali as the location to launch their 2015 MotoGP project should remove any doubt. But if Indonesia is so important to the manufacturers, and to MotoGP, why is there not a race there? Over the course of the MotoGP test at Sepang, I had a few conversations with people on the subject. On the record, the story was always the same: we need a suitable track, and as soon as one exists we will be happy to go there. Off the record, however, they were much less optimistic.

A Requiem for Kenji Ekuan & The Kando of GK Design

Industrial design is not a commonly known, much less well understood, profession. To some it suggests arranging equipment inside factories, to others it means some kind of product engineering. In reality it is the search for, and expression of, human satisfaction in inanimate objects that are mass produced. That’s quite a mouthful, and to the average person it may sound like jiberish written for some pretentious coffee table book, but it is the truth. At least, it is one version of the truth as seen by the GK Design Group of Tokyo, Japan. If you ride motorcycles, then you are intimately familiar with the work of this large and internationally respected studio. Since only its second production bike, the indigenously designed YA-1, every Yamaha motorcycle since 1958 has been crafted by GK.

Are You The MV Agusta F4 RC?

What look to be official photos of the MV Agusta F4 RC have leaked out onto the internet, along with a slide from MV Agusta’s media presentation on the machine. The photos give us our first glimpse into Varese’s homologation special, complete with a special two-can exhaust by Termignoni. The leaked slide confirms some of the numbers being thrown around about the F4 RC, namely that it will have 212hp, 81.86 lbs•ft of torque, weigh 175kg dry, and cost €36,900 (we already know that the MV Agusta F4 RC will cost $46,000 in the USA). Information from a leaked slide last year has already told us that MV Agusta has radically overhauled the F4 RC’s engine, designing a new cylinder heard, new crankshaft, new camshaft, as well as adding bigger fuel injectors, lighter pistons, and titanium connecting rods.

Kenji Ekuan, Designer of the Yamaha VMAX Has Died

Mainstream news is mourning the death of Kenji Ekuan today, as the 85-year-old Japanese industrial designer is one of the most influential artists in Japan’s modern era, and is most well-known for his designing of the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. Ekuan’s lesser-known works though include a number of motorcycle designs for Yamaha, including the now 30-year-old Yamaha VMAX motorcycle, which makes his passing even more meaningful to motorcyclists around the world. Kenji Ekuan founded GK Industrial Design after WWII, and his company helped shape the way Japan rebuilt itself after the world war.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Yamaha VMAX Carbon – Celebrating 30 Years of VMAX

It is hard to believe that the venerable Yamaha VMAX has been around for 30 years (it is even harder to believe that the VMAX has only seen one design revision in that timeframe as well), and so Yamaha is bringing out a special edition model to celebrate this special motorcycle. The 2015 Yamaha VMAX Carbon is exactly as the name implies: a VMAX drag bike laden with lightweight carbon fiber. In total, the VMAX Carbon’s tank cover, front and rear fenders, and side covers are all made from carbon fiber. Yamaha has teamed up with Akrapovic as well, and as such the Slovenian company’s slip-on mufflers complete the exhaust system and the changes to this beastly drag bike.

Video: The Genesis of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

03/04/2014 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-07

The Austrians refer to the KTM 1290 Super Duke R as “The Beast” whenever possible, and as our trained crash test dummy Iwan found out first hand, the name is appropriate for the 180hp streetfighter. The first motorcycle from KTM with traction control, the new Super Duke R is mighty, but pliable…and for good reason: KTM designed it that way.

It may not have as robust of an electronics package as the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, but the 1290 Super Duke R has unsettled the Italian bike as the sport-naked to have in your garage…that is, if you can afford it.

How did The Beast come to be from its RC8 R roots though? Never fret, KTM has put together a short video, which tells the genesis story of this monster machine.

Watch Jeremy McWilliams Embarrass Some Journalists at the Track While on a KTM 1290 Super Duke R

11/15/2013 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

jeremy-mcwilliams-ktm-1290-super-duke-r

Judging from how the KTM 1290 Super Duke R stacks up against its competition (like the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, BMW S1000R, and Ducati Monster 1200 S), the Austrian’s were right in calling the new Duke “The Beast” in their pre-launch marketing.

With 180hp coming from its 1,301cc v-twin engine, and 106 lbs•ft of torque (74 of which start at just 2,500 rpm), KTM has built a road-eating monster in the new Super Duke R.

Taming that beast is no easy task, though luckily the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is one of the Austrian company’s first motorcycles to get traction control. But as our friend Iwan learned at the international press launch in Spain, the Super Duke R still packs quite the punch.

KTM’s tame motorcycle racer, and development rider for the Super Duke R, Jeremy McWilliams was on-hand for the press launch as well. Unfortunately for McWilliams though, there appears to be something wrong with his race-spec Duke, as the front wheel has trouble staying attached to the ground. He should probably have the boys take a look at it.

38 Hi-Res Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

10/24/2013 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-07

KTM called it “The Beast” when it teased the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R ahead of the bike’s official launch, and our man Iwan from Testmotor.nl is inclined to agree with that moniker, after attending the international press launch in Spain this past week. As aggressive in appearance as it is riding on the street and track, KTM’s new streetfighter sits at the top of the class with its 180hp 1,301cc v-twin engine.

Though an MSRP for the USA hasn’t been released yet, European pricing suggests that the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R will be only for a discerning few, which is alright because KTM doesn’t intend this machine to be for everyone. Coming against stiff competition for 2014, the new Super Duke R will hit dealer floors at the same time as the still unseen BMW S1000R and liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

With the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS also getting more letters in its name for the new year, the choices are tough in the big-displacement sport/naked category. These are good problems to have though. To help you mull over which bike should be in your garage, we have 38 high-resolution photos of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy!

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Duke R

10/21/2013 @ 3:31 pm, by Iwan van der Valk17 COMMENTS

2014-KTM-1290-Super-Duke-R-Iwan-van-der-Valk-review-16

Attending KTM’s launch of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R in Spain, or friend Iwan van der Valk from Testmotor.nl has been kind enough to share his thoughts and review regarding Austria’s newest hooligan machine.

Getting a chance to put the KTM 1290 Super Duke R through its paces on the road as well as the track at Ascari, we are supremely jealous of Iwan’s experience. Hopefully KTM USA will let Asphalt & Rubber have a turn on the 1290 Super Duke R soon. – Jensen

For 2014, KTM is launching the third model of the Super Duke line, which they have been selling since 2005 (note: KTM mentions it’s the fourth edition because of the small upgrade in 2011).

The new KTM 1290 Super Duke R has a brand new 1,301 cc v-twin engine, that delivers a huge amount of horsepower (180bhp) and a mountain of torque (106 lbs•ft). The 1290 Super Duke R only weighs 417 lbs dry.

KTM Super Duke 1290 R Debut Coming Very Soon

09/18/2013 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

ktm-super-duke-1290-r-teaser

In just eleven days, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R is going to make its official production debut. We have already seen the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype, which took the 2012 EICMA show by storm.

We have also already seen Jeremy McWilliams take the RC8-powered street-naked up “The World’s Most Famous Driveway” at the Goodwood Festival of speed, which of course only whet our appetite further for “The Beast” that KTM has created.

Just in case we forgot about all that though, KTM has created a teaser website for the Super Duke 1290 R, complete with countdown clock, along with another teaser video.